French GP: What you need to know
The definitive preview to F1 2019 round eight at Paul Ricard, live only on Sky Sports F1 this weekend
Last Updated: 19/06/19 5:07pm
After the drama and controversy in Canada it's time for the French GP and the opening act of F1's first double header of the season.
It's another crucial race as we head towards a hectic and often-defining summer in the championship.
Ferrari will be aiming to put Montreal behind them - even though they are still challenging Sebastian Vettel's race-losing penalty - and the team say they have a "few small evolutions" on their car this weekend as they look for their first victory of the season.
It's all been going Mercedes' way so far this season, and Lewis Hamilton's in the last three races, but the championship leaders are expecting a tough fight on a track that features long straights, as well as several corners that should favour their impressive W10.
Last year's race, the first back at Paul Ricard since 1990, was a cracker after Sebastian Vettel collided into Valtteri Bottas into Turn One and we're braced for another entertaining weekend, with every session live on Sky Sports F1.
What are the teams and drivers saying?
Mattia Binotto, Ferrari: "Following Canada we definitely want to get back on track and go racing with our rivals once again. In France we will have a few small evolutions, elements that represent for us a useful step in defining the direction we will take in developing the car. What we will be bringing won't be the solution to our problems, but the technical feedback we get from these evolutions will be important for the next steps we take. Paul Ricard has been a tricky circuit for us last year and we know that this kind of track isn't particularly favourable for our package, but nothing is impossible so we will be ready to do our best."
Toto Wolff, Mercedes: "Canada was something of a wake-up call for us. After a run of very good reliability over the opening six races, we experienced a number of problems over the course of the weekend, almost all of which were of our own making - from the problem with the fuel system on Valtteri's car in FP1 to the hydraulic leak on Lewis' car which we had to fix on the morning before the race. We were fortunate that those reliability issues were exposed when we still had the chance to solve them, but we know that they could have easily ruined our weekend and it is down to the great skill of our mechanics that they didn't. We expect another tough fight in France next weekend. The circuit features some similarities to Montreal and the long straights will present a challenge for us. However, unlike Canada, the corner characteristics are spread across a range of speeds, which should play to our advantage. We're looking forward to the chance to put a few things right again."
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari: "The circuit has long straights and low-speed corners, although there is a wider range of corner speeds there," said the German. "Most of the corners have been resurfaced since last year. Last year our race was compromised by the first lap incident but I think our car can have the pace to do quite well there."
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda: "At the Paul Ricard circuit we will be running an upgraded Spec 3 Power Unit on Max, Pierre and Daniil's cars.The changes to the previous specification are mainly around the ICE and the turbocharger. Our test bench data shows a power increase over the previous version of our PU, however we know that we have not yet matched the figures from the manufacturers currently leading the championship."
Cyril Abiteboul, Renault: "France is clearly an important milestone. Not only is it our home Grand Prix at Le Castellet, but also the opportunity to demonstrate a further improvement in our competitiveness. While Canada, a power sensitive circuit, underlined the gains made in engine performance, France will see the introduction of several development items on the chassis. One thing is clear: we cannot dwell on Montreal and to aim for a repeat of that result and keep striving to reduce the gap to the front."
Daniel Ricciardo, Renault: "I'm really looking forward to embracing the French atmosphere and hopefully doing the team proud. I know it's a significant race for them and how much it means to everyone involved. The target for France has to be repeating the form of Canada. We have some upgrades, which should mean the start of a trend of our true pace. It's coming along well and, as the car gets better, I'm also growing in confidence and I'll keep getting better with it."
Carlos Sainz, McLaren: "We are now a third of the way through the season and, as expected, the midfield is getting tighter. Every race is an opportunity we must take. We recently saw how we are able to score at tracks that really didn't suit us much and, at the same time, how small details can leave you out of the points. That means there is no margin whatsoever to sit back and relax, so we are coming to France fully focused and wanting to push hard again."
What's coming up on Sky F1 and when's the race?
French GP TV times for Sky F1
Click here to find out when an where to watch the whole French GP weekend live
Sky Sports F1 will kick off coverage from Paul Ricard by providing the definitive word on the Sebastian Vettel penalty controversy - and all the latest news surrounding Ferrari's request of a review - in an hour-long edition of Welcome to the Weekend from 5pm on Thursday.
The build-up shows to qualifying and the race on Saturday and Sunday will include a number of great features - including going behind the scenes with Renault at their Enstone factory, the second part of Valtteri Bottas' driving masterclass, and a special piece on Vettel.
Sunday's race starts at 2.10pm, with Sky F1 on air from 12.30pm.
Have your say: Will Ferrari's penalty 'review' succeed?
Who's topping the championships?
Hamilton is starting to pull away from Bottas after a hat-trick of victories, while Mercedes have built a huge lead in the constructors' standings.
How it stands after seven rounds
|Drivers' - Top 4|
|1. Lewis Hamilton||162 points|
|2. Valtteri Bottas||133 points|
|3. Sebastian Vettel||100 points|
|4. Max Verstappen||88 points|
|Constructors' - Top 4|
|1. Mercedes||295 points|
|2. Ferrari||172 points|
|3. Red Bull||124 points|
|4. McLaren||30 points|
- Sebastian Vettel broke a pole drought in Canada, but he hasn't won a race since last August's Belgian GP - a run of 15 races he will be looking to end at Paul Ricard
- Lewis Hamilton, last year's race winner, has claimed 11 victories in that time. He can move to within 12 of Michael Schumacher's all-time win record this weekend
- All three French drivers were involved in first-lap collisions last year, and only Romain Grosjean finished the race. Esteban Ocon, who won't race this year, and Pierre Gasly retired on Lap One
- Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen are the only former French GP pole-sitters and the only former French GP race winners in this year's entry. Of the rest of the field, only Valtteri Bottas can claim a previous front row in France and Max Verstappen can claim a podium.
- The next front row lock-out for either Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren or Williams will be their 63rd and beat the all-time record the all currently jointly hold.
- Race lap record: 1:34.225.
- Ultimate lap record: 1:30.029
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